2011 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
This year’s World Car of the Year competition began with thirty-nine vehicles, picked by a team of journalists from around the world. The next stage cut the list of eligible vehicles down to ten, followed by the selection of three finalists at last month’s Geneva Motor Show. It came down to the 2011 Nissan Leaf against the 2011 Audi A8 and the 2011 BMW 5 Series; as good as the other cars may have been, only one car on the list counts as revolutionary, and the jurors awarded the title to the Nissan LEAF. In a prepared statement, the panel said, “The Leaf is the gateway to a brave new electric world from Nissan. This 5-seater, 5-door hatchback is the world's first, purpose-built, mass-produced electric car. The good news? It feels just like a normal car, only quieter."
Nissan wasn’t the only award winner at this year’s presentation. Ferrari’s 458 Italia was declared the 2011 World Performance Car, besting the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the Porsche 911 Turbo. Aston Martin’s Rapide was declared the 2011 World Car Design Of The Year, beating out the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the Ferrari 458 Italia. Finally, the Chevrolet Volt took top honors as the 2011 World Green Car, defeating the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition and the Nissan Leaf.
The World Car Awards began in 2003 as a way to recognize the globalization of the automotive industry, and to recognize manufacturers who deliver excellence on an international scale. To be eligible for a World Car Award in any category, a vehicle must be sold on at least two continents for a period ranging from January 1 of the previous year through May 30 of the current year. Previous World Car of the Year award winners include the Volkswagen Polo (2010), the Mazda 2 (2008) and the Lexus LS460 (2007).